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Business tip from Wilderness Tours, Ontario

Never run out of food – this is one element of adventure tourism you can control!

Excursion Mauricie, Québec

One example of catering to every detail is providing complementary client transfer from client accommodations to the adventure departure point. Excursion Mauricie offers this service and finds that clients perceive this to be a personalized, easy to use, and added-value service. In fact, they find that when the transportation component is taken care of, the product is more accessible and the client faces one less constraint to purchase your product.

Québec Hors-Circuits and Excursion Mauricie are two operators that have planned adaptations ready for when inclement weather strikes. When the Saguenay Fjord is too rough to warrant a zodiac trip, Québec Hors-Circuits offers alternatives such as guided hiking with geological interpretation of the Fjord.

Excursion Mauricie takes advantage of inclement weather by focusing on unique interpretation, e.g. the beautiful scent of conifers in the rain, foggy and mysterious landscapes, and creative photography.

“Even rain becomes a source of pleasure and amusement for our clients! In rainy weather we ensure guests enjoy their adventure experience by: providing guests with complete equipment including spare rain gear; encouraging clients to test their limits by motivating them to succeed and enjoy the difference of doing the activity in the rain; [and] having a positive attitude to help see and appreciate the place in another light.”

Uncommon Journeys, Yukon Territory, Canada

“It is absolutely clear that the higher the quality of the product – the higher the margin. Particularly in the north – low volume means a need for high quality and but also high revenue. High end for us is not ‘luxury’ – that isn’t why guests come. [Distinguish the difference between quality and luxury.] Service is the difference. Our cabins are rustic but clean. Clothes are new and warm.

We never give guests anything that we wouldn’t wear, eat or use. Authenticity of the experience is essential. Our overhead is enormously high but we make [very significantly higher] profit than operations that try to do it “on the cheap”.

Comments (Exerpts) from a client travelling with Polar Sea Adventures, Pond Inlet, Nunavut

Traveling with Dave Reid & Polar Sea Adventures was a pleasure because the company prioritized safety and comfort of its clients at all times.

This included:

  • Bringing along extra gear for clients, including hats, jackets and mitts, in the event that we were cold and many of us utilized this equipment. This also included putting hot water bottles in our sleeping bags at night a very welcome treat.
  • Making provisions for those clients who have dietary restrictions. As a vegetarian I was well taken care of and was never made to feel that my diet was an encumbrance
  • Showing care and concern for everyone on the trip, Dave took time to look into our eyes and make sure we were warm, comfortable and that our needs were met. For example, when he made the decision to stay an extra night, he cleared it with each one of us individually, ensuring that none of us had a problem with it.

Anishinabe Experience, Golden Lake, Ontario

Upon arrival, we meet and greet our guests. We discuss what they are interested in experiencing. This allows flexibility, and a personal contact that makes them feel special – the experience is personalized just for them. We want our guests to feel like they are at home, meeting new friends, learning a new culture, experiencing traditions, and being part of a community.

Québec Hors-Circuits

Québec Hors-Circuits spends considerable effort in hiring, training and motivating their guides. The company strives to hire guides that have a unique and diverse set of qualifications – skills and knowledge bases that are diverse and that complement one another.

For example, if the company requires a guide to provide snowmobiling trips, they ensure the guide not only is an expert in snowmobiling, but that the guide also has a knowledge of the region and the surrounding environment, as well as good understanding of outdoor activities.

More from Quebec Hors-Circuits and Excursion Mauricie

Both operators have found that to be able to successfully offer alternative programs, you have to extensively know your region and have alternative routes and experiences available to your guests. This can require you to have alternative guides and equipment available on short notice, and entails other logistical considerations.

The primary benefit of being able to offer alternative experiences is that you will still generate revenue, and if you can provide a quality alternative experience that satisfies your clients, they may return at another time to participate in the experience they were originally seeking.

Kairosmaja, Lapland, Finland

“We have always felt it important to hire staff locally, because in this way they can commit themselves to the values and operations of our company. The customers appreciate this. The permanent staff is mostly employed year-round and some additional help is hired during peak seasons. It is important to take care of the staff, as it reflects on the customer service. We purchase some local products like fish, potatoes, berries and souvenirs.”

North Baffin Operator

Quality will always sell. Lessons need to be learned from other parts of the world. It is a continuous process; we learn something every year. It is important that someone is always in charge to make and maintain decisions that relate to visitors’ safety. Sometimes this is difficult for Inuit people as they find it difficult to say ‘no’.

Wilderness Tours, Ontario

We live in very litigious times where no one wants to be responsible for their actions. Even if someone trips because they do not watch where they are going, they want you to pay for any injury or inconvenience caused by the injury.

Notwithstanding operating a professional program is the single most important aspect of risk management... A close second is victim care at the accident scene and continuous follow up. We instituted this program about ten years ago. ... Since then we have had [no lawyer letters] concerning river accidents. We have a few “slip and fall” lawsuits only because we have not been as diligent about them mistakenly thinking they posed no threat.

Butterfly Tours (Coastal British Columbia) says:

“Our tour guides allow us to provide safe wilderness experiences that are intimate and challenging. Some of the unique qualities that our guides can provide to clients are:

  • Guides with 20 years experience sea kayaking and guiding in Gwaii Haanas;
  • Tours led by the most experienced sea kayak guide in the park;
  • Proven ability to effectively teach wilderness kayaking skills;
  • Intimate familiarity with the area and its inhabitants.”

Snow Games of Lapland, Finland

The company implemented a Quality, Safety and Environment system for their operation three years ago. Since then, all operations have been documented and subsequently used as corporate guidelines for training staff. For example, operational guidelines include daily measurements in the consumption of oil and fuel for snowmobile safaris.

Details of accidents are recorded and monitored. Both oral and written feedback from clients are used to evaluate service.

Activities and trips are well prepared beforehand. When service is good and things work well, the client feedback is positive. The customer is provided with information before the trip (through tour operators or on the internet) regarding local weather, what to wear, rules for driving snowmobiles.

On location, before the safari begins, customers are briefed again on the same topics. The quality system has worked well and is a selling point for prospective clients. Risk analysis is carried out for each different product category.

Uncommon Journeys, Yukon Territory, Canada

Our company is well known for its safety practices – we adhere to Outward Bound standards. Our business involves dog team trips with guests driving their own sled and team. We therefore take a huge amount of time after their arrival on “how to dogsled”. Guests can be a little anxious.

The first night is like a ‘Mushing 101’. We spend time instructing and letting clients know what they can expect the next day. We also explain the physics of mushing – why we wait a certain running. In the morning we repeat the information over again.

We operate with a low guide to client ratio – never more than three guests for each guide. On the trail there is a guide in front and one at the back. Our trails have a progression, starting with easy logging trails and then they gradually narrow down to finally a single winding track.

Clients start with about six well-trained dogs, but some can be un-hooked in difficult sections so that the guests always feel in control. In six years we have never had a serious injury.

Excursion Mauricie, Québec

Adventure Travel and Ecotourism Best Practices Tour 2000, The Economic Planning Group of Canada on behalf of The Canadian Tourism Commission, July, 2000

When catering to a family, we typically place children in the canoe with the guide. The guide oversees the safety of canoeing, entertains the children, and tells them about the flora and fauna at an age-appropriate level. The parents then have the opportunity to paddle on their own in a second canoe. This allows them a much deeper appreciation of nature and the experience and ensures they relax and enjoy their surroundings, while the guide oversees the children’s experience.

Naturupplevelser i Lappland, Sweden – Safety Practices

The absolutely most important way to achieve high quality and safety is planning. I can see the whole arrangement in front of me, from the guest sitting at home thinking about what he/she wants to experience, to the follow-up when the guest is at home again. Then I’m going through the arrangement itself, day by day, and thinking of everything that will happen – and what can happen. One day is devoted to going through every arrangement with staff members.

….Advance information is important when you arrange hunting. On one hand, there are lots of licenses that have to be applied for – and that takes time. On the other hand, I inform the client about what kind of rules and regulations are in force regarding the handling of weapons and hunting in Sweden. I have memos which the guests have to sign to show that they have understood what it is about. Then if something happens, the hunting leader doesn’t have that kind of responsibility. Those memos should be written in a language which the guest can understand.

The week before the guest comes, I call them to make sure they have all the permissions they need so the guest won’t miss any hunting day because of that. The guest feels extra safe when he knows that I as the organizer care about him. I also send my guests a list of equipment and a list with information about doctors, dentist etc. Just so they will know that there is a service network even though they are in the wilderness. I also ask the guest to inform me about special dietary needs.

Nunavut Lodge Owner – West Hudson Bay

Because of the natural hazards of hiking through Nunavut wilderness, and the large population of polar bears in the Wager Bay area, visitors are never allowed to venture out on their own without being accompanied by a members of the company – that is, a Nunavut resident who is aware of local conditions and safety issues. Order is always maintained in water-based activities. Local guides are given responsibility for the safety of their clients and will not go out in dangerous conditions even at the urging of the clients.




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